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Willow Flycatcher

Empidonax traillii ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TYRANNIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small drab flycatcher of wet, brushy areas, the Willow Flycatcher is best identified by its voice. Nearly identical to the Alder Flycatcher; the two species were considered the same until the 1970s.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.1–6.7 in
13–17 cm
Wingspan
7.5–9.4 in
19–24 cm
Weight
0.4–0.6 oz
11–16 g
Other Names
  • Moucherolle des saules (French)
  • Mosquero saucero (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Flycatcher songs are innate, not learned like those of most songbirds. Young Willow Flycatchers reared in captivity with Alder Flycatcher tutors sang typical Willow Flycatcher songs.
  • When the two species are found together, the Willow Flycatcher will keep Alder Flycatchers out of its territory. But it expends more effort to keep out other Willow Flycatchers.
  • If a Brown-headed Cowbird lays its eggs in the nest of a Willow Flycatcher, the flycatcher may bury the cowbird eggs in the nest lining, or even build a completely new nest over the top of the first one.

Habitat


Marsh

  • Breeds in moist, shrubby areas, often with standing or running water.
  • Winters in shrubby clearings and early successional growth.

Food


Insects

Mostly insects, some berries in fall.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–5 eggs
Egg Description
Creamy white or buff dotted with dark irregular markings around large end.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and with only small patches of down.
Nest Description

Nest built low in crotch of bush or small tree near water, on outer edge of shrub. Nest an open cup woven of weed stems, plant fibers, pine needles, shredded bark, and grass; lined with feathers, hair, rootlets, and fine materials.

Nest Placement

Shrub

Behavior


Flycatching

Captures insects by hawking and hover-gleaning.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Overall populations appear to be declining. Southwestern subspecies is listed as Endangered, extirpated from much of its original range. Listed on the Audubon Watchlist

Credits

  • Sedgwick, J. A. 2000. Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii). In The Birds of North America, No. 533 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Willow Flycatcher Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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